Why did My Goose Suddenly Die?

Poultry farming comes with several challenges, whether you are a new farmer or a seasoned one. One such challenge that has a major impact on the practice is the sudden death of a bird in the flock. I get a question from time to time: why did my goose suddenly die?

This question comes from farmers shocked by the sudden demise of a goose that showed no signs of being ill. Though not a common occurrence, sudden death occurs in geese from time to time for some reasons. This article takes a look at the issue of sudden demise and possible ways to negate it.

7 Reasons Goose Suddenly Die

Here are a few reasons why your goose may have killed over with what seemed like no prior warning.

– Poisoning

Poisoning is more common in free-range geese. Once poisoning occurs, the affected goose usually takes less than a week to pass away. Some poisons are lethal and kill the goose in a matter of hours.

Several plants can poison geese, including cedar wood, johnson grass, mistletoe, nightshade, periwinkle, sudangrass, bracken fern, and azaleas. The list of plants that are toxic to geese is large. It is best to consult a local vet to get a list specific to your location.

Poisons include blue-green algae in stagnant ponds and chemicals sprayed on the farm like pesticides, herbicides, and rodenticides. Poisoning can also occur naturally from predators like venomous snakes. Some foods can also result in poisoning if ingested by your goose.

These foods include avocados, chocolate, alcohol, coffee, citrus fruits, tobacco, and rhubarb leaves. You must ensure that your geese do not contact any of the above substances. Limit the chemicals used on the farm and keep geese away from areas where such chemicals are present.

It is best to keep geese secluded from other animals and birds and monitor their pond for algae, fungi, and mushrooms. Since death from poisoning may be instantaneous in some cases with no signs to look out for, prevention is the best cause of action.

– Organ Failure

Geese require the proper functioning of all their organs. For this reason, failure of one organ, especially one essential to the system’s functioning, is bound to result in death. Organs prone to fail in geese include the esophagus, the crop, the heart, the liver, the intestines, and the cloaca. In organ failure, death occurs in a matter of hours or days.

Organ failure usually results from strain or sepsis in the organ. It results from worms, bacteria, or internal organ damage. Worms can fester in your goose, causing the organs to fail as they are clogged up or damaged. The organs can also suffer strain as they try to supply nutrition to both the host and the parasites.

There are very subtle signs of worms and bacteria in geese, and most require a thorough inspection of their droppings. Once the stain on these organs reaches a certain point, they fail and stop working.

Your best cause of action to avoid this is to familiarize yourself with healthy goose dropping so you can know immediately they change. It is also advisable to deworm your geese once every month or two.

– Invisible Illness

Your goose can be sick and show no external signs of it. This lack of signs and symptoms is called an invisible illness. The goose will suffer, but no warnings are detected. Once the illness progresses, the goose will lay down and die.

It is a very frustrating occurrence, especially for new farmers, as they start to question whether or not they could have taken some sort of action to mitigate the goose’s death.

Avian tuberculosis is one such illness. It is weird in that it leads to increased appetite and thirst and a slight difficulty in respiratory function. However, the lack of enough oxygen in the blood and the gradual degradation of the lungs will result in the goose’s death in a matter of days.

Egg yolk peritonitis is another form of invisible illness. It results from the presence of yolk material in the digestive tract of geese. This condition is dangerous for any goose as the yolk is an excellent medium for the growth of bacteria. The only noticeable sign that the disease is progressing is usually a swollen abdomen, but by this time, the goose is already on death’s door.

– Impaction

Simply put, impaction is extreme constipation. If your goose is suffering from impaction, it cannot regularly pass stool which accumulates in its tract and backs up the intestines. Impaction takes time to develop but kills in a day or two as the clogging impacts the normal function of all other organs, including the heart and lungs.

Impaction can result from many things, the most common being ingesting a solid particle that cannot pass through the colon and rectum. Depending on the goose size, these can be anything from soybeans to large stones to excess corn.

Ingestion of nylon can also result in impaction. Nylon goes down the tract undigested. Ingesting a large amount will lead to build-up and block the passing of anything else consumed. The other cause of impaction is parasitism.

Worms grow in the colon and lay eggs in the tract. As they clump together to lay eggs and reproduce, they clog the flow of fecal matter. They also suck out the water from the clogged fecal matter and surrounding intestine walls, leaving a dry solid deposit in the tract.

It is thus best to regularly deworm your goose and ensure that there is no plastic in their coop or the farm where they can get to it and accidentally ingest it.

– Injury

Injury to your goose can cause its death. If the damage is internal and severe enough, the goose will die immediately or in hours. Damage to your goose can be from several things, including falling debris like branches from tree branches and rocks.

Internal injury can result from predators attacking, getting stepped on by large farm animals like cows and horses, or fighting other animals and geese. Such injuries are hard to spot or diagnose and are only detected after the goose has passed.

Since such deaths are usually accidental, it is hard to avoid them or plan on how to counteract them. The best you can do is seclude your geese in a safe zone away from other animals.

– Egg Bound

Egg binding is a situation where an egg gets stuck in the oviduct of your goose. It does not affect the gander. Egg binding is life-threatening and causes death within 20-30 hours of occurring. It results from several factors, including obesity in geese, oviduct infection, calcium deficiency, egg retention by the goose, excessively large egg formation inside the body, and premature laying by a goose.

The egg gets stuck in the uterus and kills the goose without warning. Egg binding is difficult to remedy in geese since they are secretive layers and spook easily. If you check in on them as they lay, they may retain the egg after being disturbed, resulting in the condition.

You can take some measures to prevent this by ensuring that you supply your goose with enough calcium in the diet and that it does not get obese. Reducing supplemental lighting in young goslings is also best to avoid premature egg laying.

– Old Age

All animals age and die. The most common geese that pass from aging are geese kept as pets or those maintained for their beauty. It is because geese kept for their meat and eggs get slaughtered after a certain period, and they do not live the full length of their lives.

The lifespan of geese varies from one breed to the other, but the average span is 20-25 years. There are cases where geese live longer, with the Canada goose living for up to 30 years and the Chinese goose making it 35 years. However, these are very rare cases, and most geese will die after about 18 years as their bodily functions decrease.

Death from old age sometimes has no signs or warning as the geese remain active and normally feed during their formative years. The only indicator may be zero egg production in female geese and a reduced mating among the gander.


Animals, like all other living organisms, die at some point. Some causes may be due to negligence, while most that result in sudden death are from uncontrolled factors. As a poultry farmer, all you can do is provide your geese with a safe, clean, and insulated place to live.

You can also ensure they receive their vaccines regularly and check them weekly for any signs of physical anomaly or sudden behavior change. If your goose dies suddenly, it would be best to take it to a vet for a post-mortem examination. Doing this ensures that you can find the cause.

The exam helps to identify whether the cause of death is localized to a single goose or is something that will affect the rest of the flock in time.

avatar James
Hey, I'm James, a hardworking homesteader for more than 30 years. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes from tending my flock. I've raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat for many years. I also have experience with other poultry too. Learn more

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